The Future of EU Support to Civil Society – BCSDN Position on IPA III

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The EU supports the reforms in the enlargement countries with financial and technical assistance, mainly through the framework of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). As IPA II expires on 31 December 2020, in continuation of the accession support, a proposal for a new Regulation on IPA III for the period 2021-2027 is currently in preparation. BCSDN published its opinion on the IPA III, discussing how to make EU support to civil society more effective.

The way IPA III addresses civil society does not seem to acknowledge sufficiently that an enabling environment and free civic space is crucial for civil society to continue “to play constructive role in supporting democratic processes and ensuring greater checks and balances.

The biggest novelty of the IPA III is in the Programming framework where there is a shift from the principle of ‘fair share’ of partner allocations to the principle of performance. In simple words, this means that, from 2021, the IPA III will be equipped with the tools to provide a financial reward for good progress done in the EU integration reforms of a country, and “penalty” for lack of progress or backsliding. Despite the current trend of shrinking civic space in the region, the IPA III does not seem to acknowledge sufficiently that an enabling environment and free civic space is crucial for civil society. Therefore, an effective response to the shrinking of civic space could be provided through applying the newly introduced principle of performance to support civil society action. 

In the full Position, read more about the IPA III proposal and how the EU could provide a more strategic and effective support to civil society through this instrument, as well as IPA II lessons learned from implementation and recommendations.

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